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Top 5 Health & Safety Risks to Avoid This Holiday Season 

Holidays are supposed to be about sharing good times with family and friends, so we’ve gathered some tips for how to avoid the biggest risks to your season of cheer. 

Illness 

Transmissible viruses are the biggest risk when celebrating the holidays. Avoiding people when sick is key, but sometimes it is accidental or unavoidable. Washing your hands frequently and taking other proper cautions suggested by the CDC can help mitigate viral infections taking hold. 

Mental health can also be tried and tested during the holidays. Stress, over-eating, consumption of alcohol, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can all lead to an unhealthy mental state. This is as important a time of the year as ever to take care of yourself and reach out for help when needed. Self-care can go a long way, but it isn’t a cure-all, nor should anyone who isn’t a professional take on the sole task of ensuring or improving someone’s mental health; call your physician. 

Food  

Taking care when preparing those delicious dishes, such as avoiding cross-contamination and washing hands and prepping surfaces thoroughly with warm soapy water, is important, but not keeping food at the proper temperature is the most frequent cause of foodborne illness over the holiday season. There is a strain of bacteria called C. perfringens that is associated with cooked foods left out at room temperature, a common holiday occurrence. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this bacteria is to blame for nearly a million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. alone each year, with more cases happening in November and December. Try to keep your cooked and refrigerated food temperatures out of the danger zone, which is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help keep you and your dinner guests safe to spread the good tidings and cheer while breaking bread. 

Fire  

Fire According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve.” Be alert, follow cooking directions, and keep all burnables away from the stovetop. Fireplaces and candles carry similar risks during the holidays due to increased use in winter cold months and the abundance of decorations, and one small spark can ruin holiday plans and worse. Never leave a candle or fire unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Avoid using open-flame heating and lighting sources, and opt for safer, battery-operated, or electric sources instead. 

Décor  

With all of these decorations, the most dangerous is the Christmas tree and its lighting. Live Christmas trees dry out when not properly watered or if cut too early or left up too long. Be sure to pay attention to this as well as the electrical load on the sources. NFPA found that “electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half of home Christmas tree fires.” 

NFPA also reports that, excluding Christmas trees, in 2014-2018, fires caused an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries and $11 million in direct property damage in the U.S. Help keep this completely preventable occurrence from wreaking havoc around the holidays. Take the proper precautions to ensure a warm, but safe, holiday. 

Slips & Falls  

The CDC reported in a relatively recent study on holiday-decorating-related falls that most injuries were to men aged 20 to 49 years, and many were caused by falls from ladders. The big take-away? “Prevention strategies should focus on raising awareness about falls and promoting safety practices during the holiday season,” and we want to help. 

Clear your work area of these tripping hazards, make sure you have good lighting, and take caution in poor conditions when outside. Wear good shoes and proper clothing for the weather and task. Ask someone to help brace your ladder and hand you tools to cut down on trips up and down from heights. Overall, awareness is key and knowing that this injury is a top contender every year for ruining someone’s joy can be enough to help protect your holiday season from the blues due to injury. 

Make sure that your holiday season doesn’t succumb to the pitfalls of celebrating these winter months. With awareness and some forethought on safety, you can make these holidays something you want to remember for years to come.   

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